BLOG: Time Management for Couples: 3 Common Challenges & What to Do About Them
Peace, Alignment, Intimacy & Getting Sh*t Done
In today’s fast-paced world, you’re likely juggling A LOT. Managing your own time is tough enough, then you add another person into the mix, like a beloved, and it gets even more difficult, stressful and frustrating. Then if you add in kids, that adds a TON of new demands and complexities too.
“Finding time” to get the basics of day-to-day life covered can be a daunting task. When you’re stretched with the basics, time with your beloved or on your own becomes almost laughable.
Juggling your own needs, your beloved’s, work and family responsibilities and life in general, can certainly put a serious strain on a relationship.
This IS hard. It’s NOT you or your beloved. This common struggle ISN’T you or your beloved or your dynamic together. It’s so common it’s cliché. So don’t despair. This may be hard, but there IS hope and you DO have options.
The key is to develop healthy HABITS. Habits that not only help you get things done, they help you stay connected and on the same team. You don’t have to be a purist or perfect, but if you focus on PROGRESS you can
- Create greater peace, flow and freedom in your day-to-day experience.
- Align and balance your individual priorities.
- Accomplish a lot more with greater ease.
- Cultivate greater connection, intimacy and fun together.
That is IF you’re willing to look honestly at what is NOT working and how YOU can do better.
Just don’t forget that it’s NOT about loving perfectly. It’s about Loving Better.
AND that while it’s great to inspire your beloved with any action you take, do NOT pressure them to do anything. That just doesn’t work and actually just gets between you.
3 Common Challenges
Each relationship has its unique dynamics, yet when it comes to time management, there are three core and common challenges most couples struggle with.
By recognizing how, when and where these three core challenges in time management show up in YOUR relationship, you set yourself up for a clear path forward. The “problem” IS the PATH!
Consider these top three challenges, how they show up in YOUR relationship and most importantly, what you can do about it! Don’t miss the Action Option at the bottom of this page.
CHALLENGE #1 LIMITATIONS
“There’s Not Enough Time !”
If you’re stretched for time, energy and motivation to invest in intimacy, you’re not alone. For most people, there’s A LOT to do in a day. Even as ONE person it can be really difficult to manage your own day, let alone manage time for two people or more if you have a family.
There’s a lot of competition for your attention, energy and TIME and there are a variety of limitations and constraints influencing, (or even demanding), what you do with the time you do have.
Which of the following eight time LIMITATIONS trip you and your beloved up the most?
- Conflicting WORK Schedules: Do you have demanding jobs or different working hours?
- Overlapping COMMITMENTS: Do you have lots of commitments and obligations that compete for the same time?
- Unsynchronized FAMILY schedules: Do you have the schedules of not just the two of you, but kids or others to factor in and no real system for aligning all your schedules as one?
- FINANCIAL pressures: Are financial concerns limiting the amount of time you have together or your ability to enjoy that time? Do one of you feel burdened with the financial responsibilities?
- Emotional EXHAUSTION: Are you stressed, fatigued, or emotionally exhausted and just have no motivation or energy for investing time and effort into your relationship?
- Conflicting SOCIAL calendars: Do you each want differing amounts or kinds of socializing or do your social plans compete with each other?
- TECHNOLOGY distractions: Is excessive use of smartphones, social media, video games or other digital distractions negatively impacting the amount and quality of time you have together.
- Inefficient use of SHARED calendars: Are you not fully using your shared calendars and struggling with double bookings, missed appointments or important things not happening when they need to?
CHALLENGE #2 PRIORITIES
“This is more important than that!”
When partners have varying priorities, interests, and expectations regarding how they spend their time, conflicts can arise. Clashes in expectations, conflicting personal goals, and disagreements over whatever “down time” you may have, can create tension and throw a monkey wrench in the flow of your day AND your dynamic as a couple.
Which of the following 10 PRIORITIES trip YOU up the most when it comes to time management (and to making time to be together)?
- Conflicting VISIONS: Do you have different values, visions and goals in life?
- Clashing EXPECTATIONS: Do you have different expectations from each other regarding the frequency and nature of time on your own, together, with family, etc.?
- Difficulty in setting BOUNDARIES: Are either of you failing to establish or honor boundaries between your work, personal time, and couple or family time? Does work creep into personal time?
- INCONSISTENT / IMBALANCED time allocation: Do either of you feel resentment that one of you consistently invests more time, effort and energy into the relationship and to managing your home and lives?
- Lack of QUALITY time together: Does one of you want more time together than the other? Or are your busy routines and conflicting priorities leading to a scarcity of dedicated time for you to connect?
- Differences in ENERGY levels: Is one of you more energetic in the mornings while the other is a night owl, leaving you conflicted about when is best to connect together?
- Struggles with prioritizing SELF-CARE: Do you feel differently about what is or when you should do any solo time or self-care? Do either of you have trouble finding time for your personal needs and time for yourself?
- Lack of FLEXIBILITY or SPONTANEITY: Are rigid routines or an unwillingness to adjust schedules limiting your opportunities for time together? Do you feel stuck in overly structured or predictable routines that make the relationship feel monotonous?
- Disagreements over DOWN TIME: Are you experiencing conflict around interests and preferences for what you do with any “down time” you do have.
- Neglecting personal HOBBIES and interests: Do you have little or no time f or individual or shared hobbies or interests? Do you feel resentful or guilty about the time either of you spends on hobbies?
CHALLENGE #3 COMMUNICATION
“Why didn’t you tell me ?!”
Poor communication around schedules, appointments, deadlines and all the varied demands on your time is a recipe for disaster. Failure to clearly and regularly communicate about your time, schedule and desires can lead to misunderstandings, missed opportunities, conflicting commitments and unnecessary and avoidable tension.
"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." - George Bernard Shaw
Which of the following 5 COMMUNICATION challenges trip YOU up the most?
- Lack of ALIGNMENT about schedules: Do you struggle with aligning your various schedules? Are you experiencing conflicts, overlap or misunderstandings around your availability?
- Differing APPROACHES to time management: Do you two have different organizational styles and approaches to managing your time? Is one of you more of a planner and likes routines and one of you likes to leave things more loose?
- Not sharing your NEEDS: Do either of you not speak up about your needs around how you spend your time?
- Inability to DELEGATE responsibilities: Are you challenged by getting other people to help manage tasks? Do you need to do it yourself or hesitate to seek support?
- Unresolved CONFLICTS: Do you have any unresolved conflicts that are impacting your desire to spend any quality time together or even to work together to make day-to-day life work and flow more smoothly?
Layer, Interact & Exacerbate
These challenges often layer, interact and can exacerbate one another. Things start to build up, until one day there’s a blow up.
It’s NOT simple nor easy, but it IS important to “call out” what is tripping you up the most, so little by little you can “call yourselves UP” and start making subtle shifts until you start to notice big changes.
Subtle shifts can lead to BIG changes.
Yes, time management IS difficult, and this hurdle isn’t really ever going away, but the good news is that there ARE a variety of healthy HABITS to choose from to help you manage your time so you can experience more of what you want and less of what you don’t want in love and life.
Pick something, anything from the list below and then PRACTICE it.
Which of these following 20 HEALTHY HABITS would make the biggest difference for you and your relationship? What do YOU commit to?
NOTE: Do NOT push habits on your beloved. AUTONOMY is essential. Pick 1-3 to focus on for 30-90 days.
- Understand your individual PRIORITIES: Know what's most important for each of you as individuals. Make your individual lists, share them and why each is important to you (and bonus to the relationship too).
- Create a shared VISION: Get your core shared values clear, aligned and visible to remind you how to prioritize your time. Create a shared vision for your life together.
- Use your Vision to Make Big CHOICES: Use your shared vision to help inform making any big choices about time together.
- Draft an ideal PLAN: Outline your ideal shared time plan, include contingencies/plan Bs or Cs for when things go “off the rails”. Be intentional and ready to be flexible too. Proactively plan for busy periods, big events or repeat tasks. It will reduce last-minute stress and conflicts.
- “Negotiate” by seeking SYNERGY: Understand and appreciate each other's organizational styles and preferences. Make sure the ideal plan you drafted is designed with the synergy of BOTH your needs and desires. Look for turning any “oil & water” into “chocolate & peanut butter.
- DESIGNATE time: Have specific times set aside for priorities. Beyond the basics, get creative to give yourselves and each other the time you need on your own, together as a couple or as a family.
- Create ROUTINES: Establish daily, weekly and even monthly routines. This provides structure, simplifies decision-making, and saves a lot of time, confusion and frustration.
- DELEGATE Tasks: Share household responsibilities and divide tasks according to each person's strengths, preferences, and availability. Share and distribute tasks to alleviate any burden on one partner.
- Bonus Hire, (or trade with), someone to help if you can.
- Use SYSTEMS: Align your schedules and coordinate plans using shared calendars, bulletin boards or even post it notes.
- Utilize TECHNOLOGY: Streamline planning with shared calendars to synchronize your schedules and avoid misunderstandings, double bookings, missed deadlines or unmet needs. Utilize time management apps and tools to coordinate and manage to-do tasks efficiently.
- Sync WORK Schedules: If possible, synchronize your work schedules to maximize your shared time off.
- Manage OVERCOMMITMENT: Avoid overcommitting yourselves. It's okay to say 'no' to invitations or requests that don't align with your current priorities.
- Include SELF-CARE: Each person should have some time for self-care. It's important for mental health, overall well-being and ultimately for accomplishing your goals. Reminder: You will each need different things to recharge too!
- Be FLEXIBLE: Be open to adjusting schedules when necessary. Life happens, and being flexible can reduce stress and build partnership.
- Be ENGAGED: Find and invest time in activities you both enjoy and can do together. Celebrate your individual and shared interests and passions.
- Define and respect BOUNDARIES: Get clear and in agreement about how much time should be spent on what and when. EX When you will work, be on the phone, have hobby or exercise time, etc.
- RESPECT Each Other's Time: Understand that each person's time is valuable. Also be sure you only make new commitments that impact your beloved AFTER consulting them.
- Be SUPPORTIVE: Encourage each other's personal goals. Help each other find time to pursue these interests. Discuss options in your monthly deep dive. (See COMMUNICATION below).
- Seek SOLUTIONS Together: If a schedule conflict arises, work together to find a solution that respects both partners' needs and priorities. Use healthy communication habits and make new plans/declarations for doing better in the future.
- COMMUNICATE regularly: This is THE most important HABIT! Meet or update each other electronically regarding any changes, potential conflicts. Share your individual and collective needs.
❤ Daily check ins - 5 min (Alerts, appreciations, & asks)
❤ Weekly meetings - 15 min (Upcoming commitments, allocate
time, set priorities. What’s coming up, who is needed to be
where and when, etc.
❤ Monthly deep dives - 30 min (What’s coming up? What’s working,
what can be better? Are we spending our time on the best things?)
❤ BONUS Learn other tips and get example agendas for daily, weekly,
monthly, quarterly and annual Marriage Meetings.
❤ Practice active listening and empathy.
❤ Prioritize resolving conflicts promptly to maintain a positive
❤ Seek professional help, if needed, to address unresolved issues.
It’s NOT You (or your Beloved)
Managing time and maintaining a thriving relationship IS a challenge. Balancing personal needs, work, family, and shared goals strains your ability to find peace, create productivity, feel aligned or enjoy intimacy. These difficulties are not a reflection of you or your beloved. They’re common struggles faced by most couples.
If you’ve been struggling to have the time to do the things you need and want to do, don’t get discouraged. Yes this IS hard. Just keep doing your best and resetting when needed.
Explore new healthy habits that not only help you manage your time but also foster connection, teamwork, intimacy and fun.
Create shared visions and calendars, draft plans and routines, but most of all, COMMUNICATE, to overcome these challenges and experience greater peace, flow, and freedom in your relationship and daily lives.
Progress Over Perfection
Remember, these ideal scenarios serve as a benchmark to strive for. While completely eliminating challenges may not always be feasible, couples can work towards minimizing their impact and finding solutions that bring them closer to the ideal state.
By implementing effective strategies and fostering a strong foundation of communication, compromise, and understanding, couples can cultivate a thriving and harmonious relationship
Don’t forget that subtle shifts can lead to significant changes. Plus time management is about PROGRESS, not perfection. Some days, week, months or even years will be better than others.
By recognizing the core challenges, adopting healthy habits, and maintaining open communication, you can create a fulfilling and balanced partnership. Building a strong foundation takes time and effort, but the rewards of a thriving relationship and smooth day are sooooo worth it.
Keep Practicing. Keep PLAYing!
Remember, each couple's journey is unique, and it's essential to adapt these tips to fit YOUR specific circumstances. Let me know if I can help!
1 - Identify your top challenges (from the list above)
- Identify the top 1-3 LIMITATIONS that trip you up the most?
- Identify the top 1-3 PRIORITIES that trip you up the most?
- Identify the top 1-3 COMMUNICATION issues that trip you up the most?
2 - Select the top 1-3 DOs/Healthy Habits (from the list above)
3 - Declare your next steps / new habits - What do YOU commit to? Do NOT
push habits on your beloved. AUTONOMY is essential. Pick 1-3 to focus on
for 30-90 days.
4 - Pick your prompts, set/post reminders to call you into action.
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